What is a Proposal?
A proposal is a document generated by a company to obtain funding from another organization. While a business plan can be considered a proposal for the company as a whole, a proposal generally focuses on a specific opportunity for the business, whether it is a bid for a solicited job, or proposed research and development work.
While business people and innovators may come up with some great ideas, those ideas will simply languish unless they can be communicated in a way that gives them credibility. Proposals are one way that businesses can sell their ideas to organizations that will provide the business with funding. Proposals often have many of the same components as a business plan, just on a more focused level.
Proposals can be written in response to solicitations or grant announcements, or can be unsolicited; that is, the organization proactively approaches organizations that may have funding, rather than waiting for the announcement of a funding opportunity. Solicited proposals are generally more widely accepted, because they respond to a need that the soliciting organization has publicized.
Writing a Proposal
Like a business plan, a proposal requires a significant effort to effectively address the needs of the soliciting organization, to clearly express the solution brought forth by the proposing business, and to prove that the proposing business is the right person for the job.
A Project Bids should be written by a group of people within the organization that meet the various needs of the project. This could include, but is not limited to, project management, technical expertise, financial expertise, manufacturing and commercialization (for product development), and legal counsel.
A quality proposal should include (but is not limited to):
- A detailed description of the work to be performed
- Background of the problem to be solved (if applicable)
- A task-based work plan with schedules and milestones
- A listing of key personnel, including resumes and descriptions of each person’s responsibility within the proposed project
- Summaries of relevant work performed in the past
- Information about the company as a whole, showing why the business is the best choice for the job. Include general capabilities, facilities information (if applicable) and relevant assets
- Information about consultants or subcontractors (if applicable)
- Financial information including overall budget, labor and material costs and other information specified in the solicitation.
Different solicitations will require different content to be included in the responding proposal. It is important to refer to the solicitation or to the point of contact for the exact requirements for each proposal.